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LST: May Finishes Up with a Solid SSW Rocking beyond Memorial Day! Plenty fun NW to NNW and tiny Trade swell thru mid week

GO DEEPER…the upcoming 10-14 days

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SNN BIG PICTURE: Sunday 5/26/19 



JETSTREAM: The upper air current is still fairly energetic. For some time now, the cut off/split Jet has drifted from our NW to our N. It did help create some marginal gale Low-pressure area to our WNW- NNW esp. by Wednesday. We saw the great results on Friday. Our Jet set up helped a large gyre in the upper levels keep the fetches from the WNW-NNW going for days. Thus, the long spell of out of season WNW-NW and soon to reinforce NNW. Details below.

The Jet goes weak and zonal by Wed-Thursday the 30th tho’ by Friday there’s minor potential with a slight trough or dip toward us Friday…WW3 isn’t claiming an event.

Jetstream: Large scale ‘river of wind’ about 30-35,000ft in our upper atmosphere flowing west to east circling earth in both Hemispheres. It has major impacts on climate, weather, and airmass (Lows and Highs) which help form and steer storms that bring our waves.

Recent-Current: Surf was small this past work week then the pattern change hit Friday eve. The surf was A+1 Saturday with a WNW-NW that filled in the first half of the day as forecasted. It hit easy 5’ at Sunset (one report of a 6’ set) and of course, there were more 4’s than 5’s. Trades kicked up stronger than forecasted with some 15-25mph gust at select exposures for the midday peak. It mellowed out for a clean evening sesh.

Source: The split Jet helped spawn some 25’ seas in a SE bound Low that had a captured fetch to start and then began occluding (stalling and broadening) around 40N (1200 miles to our NNW) Wed. 22nd. Thus, the long lasting (2-3 day episode).

Next: Luckily, by Saturday the new batch of fetch from a reinvigorated tho’ smaller weaker Low is on the charts. Still, we’re hoping for some possible 2-3’+ NNW Tuesday. Trades super lite with late morning seabreezes from Monday-Tuesday with moderate trades filling Wednesday.  

Last: A marginal gale low moves SE again from off Kamchatka Sunday-Monday where it weakens more into Tuesday. We’re hoping for a pulse of NNW to 2-3’+ again Thursday with 10-20mph ENE trades.

May took good care of us.



About a half a dozen fetches deliver over the 14-forecast period. See the Local Swell Tracker. These storms have overlap so there are 4 combined main events. The Mothers Day Swell will end up bigger and better than the upcoming Sunday-Memorial Day event…but no complaints at all.

Jetstream has been working its magic the past couple weeks with strength and beautiful NNE meridional flows right up the New Z coast! A few nice storms have been steering our way.

Saturday 5/25 the Jet is zonal with very weak energy where we need it, in the Taz and below and to the east of New Z. Luckily, Monday the 27th we see an NNE flow but the winds are just 110kts…not enough energy to get transferred to the ocean surface. A stronger NE flow points at us from under Tahiti Wednesday the 29th. By Thursday we see some deep in the Taz which drifts east of New Z and the Northern Branch intensifies. This is an improvement but not a great one like we seen the past couple weeks. Thus, no significant swells to compare with Mothers Day nor Memorial Day.

Still…if June-Aug can keep up with May this will be an EPIC Summer.

Recent-Current: The surf’s been going off with long lasting overhead SSW events pretty much back to back over 2 weeks. The same for the last couple days and later Sat. we’re in for the next run.

Next: On Sat. the 18th a Low SE of New Z with 30′ seas was steered right up the east coast again limiting the fetches’ breadth and full potential but the good news is this Low got some help by a bigger, more powerful Low on it’s heals Sunday the 19th. It’s had some 34′ seas and fast NE track with a following-fetch. It will ‘act’ on the already elevated seas of the prior Low since it has longer periods from its higher winds.

Tho’ this episode was Downgraded from Wednesday 5/15 models the captured fetch is long. By later Tuesday the storm deepened with near 40’ seas under French Polynesia. This one sent Tahiti into overdrive…Teahupo’o got 10-12’ ++ (10’ 16-sec swell).

Hawaii got some 16-18-sec forerunners late Saturday the 25th. Sunday got some 3-5’ sets and focal reefs maybe a few bigger 6′ sets (Bowls etc) and peaks into Monday before it slowly fades Tuesday 3-5’ ….

Next: Then a Low tracks NE and intensifies toward under Tahiti & should ramp the periods to 16 sec Tuesday with surf reinforcing to 2-3+’ from the straight South Tuesday into Wednesday the 29th.

Last: A Low pops Saturday the 25th under Tahiti with some 30’ seas as it tracks NE out of our window. Still, we should see some fun 3’ South surf at 16-sec building June 1st for the TC Grom Contest.


Recent/current/next: It was small last week at 2’ but upstream trades made for 3’ Friday and local fresh East winds boosted surf to 2-3’+ Saturday. The trend is down as light winds are on their way M-T. A dissipating front NW of the state is the cause. Trades come back from Wednesday and higher Thursday onward for the long haul and average Trade swell will follow.

TROPICS: Nothing new this week.

Long range outlooks are often blurry.

Finally, on Valentines Day, El Nino makes it official…The ‘Little Boy’ is here.

El Niño has looked pretty “imminent” since October but wait no more.

It’s a Happy Valentines Day for all the climate and surf forecast nerds.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Thursday 2/14 that after nearly 8 months of flirting with The Little Boy, the climate phenomenon finally stopped making us play the waiting game.

However, before you get too pumped about surf potential and comparisons to 2014/16, this El Niño and its impact on weather & waves will be limited; it’s a weak El Nino.

Scientists have been watching select zones of ocean temperatures of the eastern tropical Pacific known as the NINO3.4 region for more signs of El Niño.

They now can officially declare it “game on” as the temperatures have met the threshold of 0.5 degrees Celsius (about 1 degree Fahrenheit) above normal for three consecutive months.

Temperatures cleared this mark in October, plus models have remained bullish they’ll stay there into July.

Early February, NOAA said sea surface temperatures in the region were 0.8 degrees Celsius or 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.



Surf Climatology HERE

NWS criteria for High Surf Advisories (first number) & Warnings (second number).

All surf height observations & forecasts are for full ‘face’ surf height, or ‘trough to the crest’ of the wave.

North-Facing Shores 15 Feet and 25 Feet

West-Facing Shores – Remaining Islands 12 Feet and 20 Feet

West-Facing Shores – Big Island 8 Feet and 12 Feet

South-Facing Shores 8 Feet and 15 Feet

East-Facing Shores 8 Feet and 15 Feet

Get the latest Central Pac Hawaii HERE

Terms: Eg. The split Jetstream is why all the Gulf and Alaskan storms are sending North swells. There’s that strong, persistent blocking ridge west of the dateline bumped the Jet up and over into the Bering Sea most November.

Note: The spectral density graph in the SNN Buoy Page (link below) shows slivers of forerunners that initial text readings do not ‘show’ till later on written buoy updates. Also, note the vertical graph is not ‘wave height’ rather its a measure of wave energy in hertz (frequency or cycles/sec) for the whole ‘band’ (the distribution of power/period in the total wave energy field/spectrum).

For SNN’s Buoys ‘per shore’ arrangement pls GO HERE

Links: Get the latest on the tropics at

For more on the Westpac Typhoons GO HERE

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center outlook for the 2017 Central Pacific Hurricane Season calls for 5 to 8 tropical cyclones to either develop or cross into the Central Pacific with a 40% chance for an above-normal season, a 40% chance for a normal season, and a 20% chance for a below-normal season. An average season has 4 to 5 tropical cyclones, which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.

Tropical depression forms when a low-pressure area is accompanied by thunderstorms that produce a circular wind flow with maximum sustained winds below 39 mph. An upgrade to a tropical storm occurs when cyclonic circulation becomes more organized and maximum sustained winds gust between 39 mph and 73 mph. A tropical storm is then upgraded to Category 1 hurricane status as maximum sustained winds increase to between 74 mph and 95 mph. (The highest classification in the scale, Category 5, is reserved for storms with winds exceeding 156 mph).

Tropical cyclones go by many names around the world, and the terminology can get confusing. Once a tropical cyclone strengthens to the point where it has gale-force winds—39 mph or greater—it becomes a tropical storm. A storm that reaches tropical storm strength usually gets its own name to help us quickly identify it in forecasts and warnings. Once a tropical storm begins producing sustained winds of around 75 mph, we call the storm a typhoon in the western Pacific near Asia and a hurricane in the oceans on either side of North America. A “typhoon” and a “hurricane” are the same kind of storm, they just go by different names…it’s only a matter of geography.

Shoaling is the effect by which surface waves entering shallower water change in wave height (or grow) due to speed change (or slow down). Wavelength is reduced when going from deeper to shallower. The ‘energy flux’ must remain constant (nature’s liquid law) so the reduction in wave group (transport) speed is compensated by an increase in wave height (and thus wave energy density). Yeah, I know…waves are complex AND amazing.
Refraction is the change in direction of waves that occurs when waves travel from one medium to another or depth change. Refraction is always accompanied by a wavelength & speed change. Diffraction is the bending & spreading of waves around obstacles (‘reefs’ and openings).

High Surf Advisories & Warnings NWS criteria below in coordination with Hawai’i civil defense agencies & water safety organizations.

All surf height observations & forecasts are for the full face surf height, from the trough to the crest of the wave.

Advisory and Warning Criteria
Location Advisory Warning
North-Facing Shores 15 Feet 25 Feet
West-Facing Shores – Big Island 8 Feet 12 Feet
West-Facing Shores – Remaining Islands 12 Feet 20 Feet
South-Facing Shores 8 Feet 15 Feet
East-Facing Shores 8 Feet 15 Feet

‘Travel Time’ Buoy 51101 to Waimea Buoy
Distance: 269 nautical miles (~310 miles)
Angle: 307 deg

Wave   Wave        Wave   Depth      Wave Direction (deg)———-

Period  Length      Speed  Shallow   295,  305,  315,  325,  335,  345,  355

(s)       (ft)    (nm/h)  (ft)                  Travel Time (hours)———-

10sec. 512.  15.        256.                   17.3, 17.7, 17.6, 16.9,  15.7,   14.0,   11.9

12sec. 737.  18.        369.                  14.5,  14.8, 14.6, 14.0, 13.0,  11.6,  9.9

14sec. 1003. 21.      502.                  12.4,  12.7, 12.5,  12.0,  11.2, 10.0,  8.5

16sec. 1310. 24.      655.                  10.8, ,1 1.1,  11.0,  10.5,   9.8,   8.7,  7.4

18sec. 1658. 27.     829.                   9.6,    9.8,     9.8,   9.4,   8.7,   7.8,  6.6

20sec. 2047. 30.    1024.                8.7     8.9      8.8     8.4    7.8    7.0   5.9

22sec. 2477. 33.    1239.                 7.9     8.1       8.0     7.7    7.1     6.3   5.4

24sec. 2948. 36.    1474.                7.2      7.4      7.3     7.0   6.5     5.8    4.9

Tropical Storm – winds 39-73 mph (34-63 kt)

Category 1 – winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt)
Category 2 – winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt)
Category 3 – winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt)
Category 4 – winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt)
Category 5 – winds 156 mph and up (135+ kt)

Please visit the Central Pacific Hurricane Center website at for the most recent bulletins.

ENSO (The El Niño-Southern Oscillation) is a single naturally occurring climate phenomenon in three states or phases. These involve fluctuating ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. … When temperatures in the ENSO region of the Pacific are near average it is known as ENSO ‘neutral’, meaning that the oscillation is neither in a warm or cool phase.The two opposite phases, “El Niño”(warmer than average) and “La Niña”(cooler than average) require certain changes in both the ocean and the atmosphere because ENSO is a coupled climate phenomenon.  “Neutral” is in the middle of the continuum. The MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation) is an eastward moving disturbance of clouds, rainfall, winds, and pressure that traverse the planet in the tropics and returns to its initial starting point in 30 to 60 days, on average, unlike ENSO which is stationary. In a nutshell, a more active ENSO means more surf.

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